Donna. gets on a roll (GRIN!) and explains the world.

From:    Donna.
To:      Chris Sonnack                          Msg #34, 08:54pm Dec-17-90
Subject: Re: Self Defense?

First: Yes, Chris, I understand that you're pro-choice.

>  D> That is, I have the right to self-defense, whether I am attacked
>  You might POSSIBLY lose your job.  But that's not the same as being
>  attacked with deadly force.  You might POSSIBLY die or lose your
>  health.  But when's the last time someone you knew died in childbirth?

I'm stymied as to why you should come to this conclusion (that 'deadly
force' from pregnancy equates to death from childbirth, and only from
childbirth) from "You might POSSIBLY lose your job".  Does this conclusion
come from Public Lie #453 About Women: "most women who work for pay do so
only for pin-money"?  From Anti-Women Propaganda Item #3: "most women have
abortions do so because they're getting 'even' with the man they no longer
love"?  From Rules of the American Work Ethic #19: "every employer has to
grant maternity leave, thereby guaranteeing every pregnant woman a job to
come back to"?

In the first place, most women who work for pay do so because they have to,
not because they want to earn money for "extras".  (Remember, the average
annual pay (averaged over all persons) in 1988 was around $20,000 -- while
the average family size was 3.17.  While average does imply that there are
indeed people who earn more than that, there are also people who earn much
less than that.  I don't know what life is like where you are, but $20,000
in metro Phoenix area is considered slightly higher-than-poor for a single
person, just barely adequate for two people, next-to-impossible for three
people to live on.)

Second, for the last decade, the rate of unmarried women who have abortions
has been consistently around 80%.  While there certainly are couples who
have a "married-like" relationship without being married, this figure is so
high as to lead one to believe that *most* abortions are performed for
women who don't have a man around -- so that, even for a person who thinks
that most women working for pay are doing it for pin money, the idea that
the "pin money women workers" are most of the ones having abortions seems
highly implausible.

Third, let's look at maternity leave.  By law, employers are required to
treat it "like any other medical disability".  The norm for most businesses
is that "medical disability" is a perk granted to professional, salaried
employees (often referred to as "exempt" because their job descriptions
exempt them from wage&labor laws pertaining to overtime, etc.).  Check your
own company, and ask around -- finding a company that has, as HARD AND FAST
POLICY, maternity leave for line-level (hourly) employees is a chore.  (In
my experience, most companies say "well, it's not covered in policy, but we
do grant unofficial maternity leave in the form of guaranteed job".  And if
it ain't covered in policy, don't count on "manager's discretion" to be
applied evenly throughout the company.)

Fourth, let's look at what kinds of jobs women are most likely to be in:
nearly half of the workforce, in the U.S., in 1988, was made up of women
(51,696,000). Of those women-in-the-workforce, though, nearly half are
employed in a category called "technical, sales and administrative support"
(23,038,000).  Out of those 23M, though, over half are in the sub-category
"administrative support, including clerical" (14,628,000).  Just under 25%
of all women in the workforce (13,050,000) are in professional/managerial
positions.  So, over half of all employed women are in positions almost
guaranteed to *not* have maternity leave coverage; roughly one-fourth of
them are in jobs almost guaranteed to *have* maternity leave coverage; the
other one-fourth are in jobs that could go either way.

And last, consider what losing a job means to a pregnant woman.  If that's
difficult, borrow a maternity dress from a friend (or buy one -- sorry,
maternity clothes for the employed women are probably not going to be in
the secondhand shops; they're relatively new commodities and are in high
demand).  Pad yourself a little, and go on a job hunt.  See how many people
are going to hire someone who's *guaranteed* to need a few weeks' worth of
time off in the next few months.

Chances are, a woman who is unemployed while pregnant will probably *stay*
unemployed until quite some time after the baby is born.  If her paycheck
is required to make ends meet, losing a job may very well add up to a
maternal death, even though it probably wouldn't be counted as such in the
vital statistics.

And that's just one area of risk that pregnant women take.  Frankly, I'm
sick of people who try to tell us that mental health isn't as important as
physical health; I may not physically die from something, but I could find
myself in circumstances that I consider to be worse than death -- and isn't
that important, too?

>  There's also the fact that, you DID have sex -- in a sense, to me,
>  that says you're willing to take the risks involved in child bearing.

Nope.  I refuse to accept that definition.  Having sex means, in a
nutshell, that I chose to have sex.  Period.

This is something I was going to mention in another post to you, the one
that started from discussing surrogate motherhood.  You made the statement
to the effect that tying something into sex gave it that "otherness"
quality, which removed that something from comparison to other things --
and you came at that conclusion because of the natural connection between
sex and having babies.  You included "family bonding" with that natural
connection.  I disagree that sexual intercourse can be considered in a
*purely* biological sense, because of (that subject you and I seem to have
difficulty understanding each other on) our cultural build-up and
definition of what sex IS.

In our society, sex is a way of sharing intimacy with someone we care for.
By defining sex in this manner, WE have removed it from the realm of the
purely biological.  As products of this culture, most likely you and I
would also define sex in that manner.  I know I do.

There's a nonliterate culture (in New Guinea, I think, but don't quote me
on the actual geography) that focuses everything on FOOD.  If I, as a
member of our culture, wanted to insult you, I might tell you to do the
f-word to yourself.  If we were part of that other culture, though, I might
insult you by accusing you of having no food.  In that other culture, boys
and girls have no proscriptions against having sex any time they like....
but they may not *EAT* together until they have been married.  That is
because, in that culture, eating is the intimate-sharing equivalent of our
"making love".

True, many aspects of our culture (primarily, but not exclusively,
religious organizations) treat sex as nothing more than an exercise for
making babies.  However, short of cloistering children within that small
community (whether or not it's a religious one), I don't see how even
products of those sub-cultures can grow up WITHOUT getting the idea that in
the U.S., having sexual intercourse is a way of sharing intimacy.

If you doubt this, try an exercise: when you hear the word "affection",
what do you think of?  Kissing, hugging, holding hands?  Most people in our
culture think of these things.  Now, think of these things, imagine
yourself doing these things with a person of the opposite sex (for those in
the reading audience who are gay, imagine a person of the same sex).  What
kinds of feelings do you find your body reacting with?  Chances are, it's a
state of sexual arousal.  The *level* of arousal will most certainly differ
between people, but most of us will find *some* level of arousal from that.

Technically speaking, of course, Mother Nature designed us to procreate,
period, without all the acoutrements described above.  But, how many of us
find ourselves spontaneously achieving arousal which results in procreation
*without* those culturally-defined acts, which are ALSO culturally-defined
as "acts of affection"?  (Kinda makes you think that our culture defines
how we get "turned on", doesn't it?)

In short, Chris, I refuse to accept this double standard.  My culture
defines sex as both a method of procreation and a method of sharing love
with someone I care about.  As a product of my culture, I, too, hold this
dual definition of sexual intercourse.  And since I live in a democracy, I
*should* be free from sub-cultures within the larger culture deciding for
me when only one of those definitions applies.

>  But it does.  What it doesn't do is let you casually take human life.

FYI: Nowhere has ANYone EVER provided proof that all (or even most)
abortions are "casually" taking a human life.  (I refuse to argue about
whether or not embryos constitute human life that can be murdered, but
let's go on that assumption so we can focus on the word "casually".)  I've
known women who have had abortions, and I've read about studies, case
histories, etc.  You're falling for the anti-choice propaganda if you
believe that the word "casually" applies here..... which, I might as well
point out, is highly ironic coming from a group that generally tries to
have us believe that abortions cause long-term mental health damage to
women who choose to have them (another irony, since this is the group that,
in general, tells us "mental health" is not a valid reason for choosing
abortion).  Even C. Everett Koop, one of our country's most well-known
anti-abortion advocates, had to conclude that (1) most abortions are not
undertaken lightly and (2) most women who choose abortion experience the
same degree of relief about their decisions as do most people who weigh a
decision very carefully before making it.

>  You have many defenses: from not having sex in the first place, to
>  adoption in the final place, and all the territory inbetween.  They
>  may not be the answers you LIKE, but it's not that you're defenseless.

I'm a birthmother, remember?  I HAVE LIVED THROUGH the possible
consequences; what's ironic is that my particular station in life helped
BUFFER most of those consequences for me, and *I* had it rough.  I notice
that most of our cultural rhetoric refuses to separate the pregnancy
decision from the parenting decision; for this reason, I am at odds with
many when I say "adoption is NOT an abortion issue".  Indeed, I am at odds
with nearly everyone EXCEPT nearly every woman I've ever met who's actually
faced the decision personally; in other words, the ones who have no idea
what it's like insist on lumping them together, while those of us with
experience say that the two issues, by definition, do not belong lumped
together.   As for being an unwilling parent, well, I know too many
children who suffer from people who chose to deal with an unintended
pregnancy by becoming unwilling parents, and my heart goes to each and
every one of them.  (Note: "unwilling parents" refers to those who
reluctantly accept parenthood simply because "it happened", it does not
refer to those who say, "well, we weren't planning on it, but isn't it nice
we have an addition to the family".)

Conception does not, by default, equal a pregnancy.  Guesstimates vary
(from as low as 20% to as high as 95%) as to rate of embryo wastage, but
most researchers in the fertility field place their guesstimates in the
50-60% range.  What this means is that roughly half of all fertilized eggs
(the definition of "conception") don't make it to become a *detected*
pregnancy.  Then, an estimated one-half of all *detected* pregnancies end
in what is known as spontaneous abortion -- miscarriage.  So, no,
fertilizing an egg does *not*, by default, mean that a woman will
experience a "pregnancy", per se.... but "common wisdom" suggests
otherwise.  (If you doubt that, find a woman who's had a miscarriage, and
ask her if she in any way feels she might have been responsible for
"causing" it, even if her doctor could find no evidence that anything she'd
done to cause the miscarriage.  If she does, I'll bet that it's her
cultural conditioning (which tells her that IF pregnant THEN baby), rather
than an understanding of the true facts about miscarriage, which leads to
her guilt.)

Then, there are two ways of being a parent.  One is to give birth.  The
other is to be responsible for the day-to-day PARENTing of a child.  I
believe that "parent" is also a legal term, although that's not mentioned
in my Webster's.  In any event, we just kind of ASSume that if you are
pregnant, you will be setting up a nursery in the next few months, and
worrying about schools.  Obviously, that's not always the case, or we
wouldn't have a convention known as "adoption".

So, I guess you could call it shorthand.  How's this, then: conception =
fullterm pregnancy and pregancy=custodial parenting of a child, and full
legal guardianship?

Sorry for the confusion, although it does point out where my experiences
have caused me to veer from "common wisdom" -- for example, I do not
consider myself to be my birthdaughter's *parent* (noun), because I do not
parent (verb) her..... even though I am one of her birthparents.  And,
because I recognize that pregnancy entails so much more than just the
gestation of a zygote into child, the fertilization of an egg does not, by
definition, mean that a woman experiences a pregnancy.  She may, but one
cannot presume that she will just because one of her eggs has been

From:    Donna.
To:      Mike Arst                              Msg #43, 00:21am Dec-18-90
Subject: Re: Comment re: men's conf. (2)

Hi, Mike!  Good to see you back here.  Hope your sabbatical was restful.

> You see articles on this subject by the GAZILLIONS in women's magazines
> every year. "What to do when HE won't change." "Why you keep the creep
> you sleep with." (Both of them actual article titles) These are
> supposed to be some kind of complaint about the men in the women's
> lives, but they say to me equally that women are still massively hung

Ya know what I can't figger out, Mike?  Why are these called "women's
magazines"?  And why do some women actually buy them?

I keep coming back to "who produces it".  Remember how you and I once
(recently) discussed bias in textbooks?  When the men publish them, they're
biased.  When the women do it, they're biased.  And the kind of "women's
magazines" you're talking about don't seem to be put out by women, which
makes their particular kind of bias all the more peculiar.

Not long ago, I was reading about surveys done at women's colleges in past
decades, and frankly, I was kind of surprised by what I found.
Consistently over time, the more gifted and educated women held contempt
for their fellow women!  (Embarrassment confession: that's the same
attitude *I* held for most women during most of my life, too.)  Why is
that?  I think it has to do with the sheeplike attitude that's encouraged
by so many around us.  Sheep follow, so when sheep are told things like,
"women don't study the sciences", "women don't have to worry about
education", "men will support their families so the women can stay home and
tend the house", sheep believe these axioms.  And though it's not a
definitive result, it is true that the better-educated *tend* to be less
sheeplike.  So, when we who are relatively non-sheeplike look out at what
the sheep are doing, we feel contempt for the sheep just for being sheep.
And when that sheeplike attitude results in women who are more concerned
about what color eye make-up to use with what outfit than they are about
how well their personalities mesh with that of their date, those of us who
find make-up and fashion superficial feel contempt for people who consider
these superficialities important.

There's only one thing that doesn't fit this train of thought: both sexes
are herded into "everything to get a wo/man", but "women's magazines" spend
a lot of time on explicitly "getting a man" while "men's magazines" spend a
lot of time on "fashion for the professional", "building up your body",
"cars for the he-man" -- with "getting a woman" only implied rather than
explicitly stated.  Supposedly, both categories are put out by people who
benefit financially from pandering to the stereotype and sheeplike attitude
of the masses..... so why the difference?

(Or, is it a difference?  Is it that women are socially "allowed" to be
dependent on men, but that men -- while socially "required" to have all the
skirt they want -- are not "allowed" to be dependent on women?)